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Beijing to Go Greener Over Next Five Years

Beijing's environmental quality is expected to improve dramatically over the next five years, according to the city's 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-05).

Beijing will have a more beautiful environment, fresher air and a sounder ecology by 2005, said Beijing Mayor Liu Qi, who is also head of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Bid Committee.

Before Beijing's official application to host the 2008 Olympics, the municipal government had worked out an environmental protection plan for the period 1998-2002.

"The Olympic bid has undoubtedly accelerated the implementation of the plan," Liu said.

Since 1998, the municipal government has invested more than 30 billion yuan (US$3.6 billion) in environmental protection projects.

The average annual investment for environmental protection took up 3.3 percent of the city's annual gross domestic product (GDP).

The municipal government has planned to allocate 4 to 5 percent of its annual GDP for environmental protection projects, according to the city's 10th Five-Year Plan.

"The huge financial input provides a solid guarantee of the city's dedication to environmental protection," Liu said.

Approximately 100 industrial enterprises will be moved out of Beijing's urban areas within five years to make way for environmentally friendly enterprises and green land, government officials announced recently.

Twenty heavy polluters have been ordered to move outside the Fourth Ring Road by no later than the end of this year.

The Beijing Transformer Plant moved earlier last month from a downtown area to its new location at the Science and Technology Zone in Changping District in northern suburbs.

The city's industrial enterprises' unbalanced distribution was the result of the city's long history.

About 57 percent of industrial enterprises are located in downtown areas, which cover only 2 percent of the city's total area, causing high population density, heavy traffic pressures, natural resource shortages and pollution, municipal government officials said.

The city launched a campaign in August of last year to order heavy-polluting industrial enterprises to move outside the Third Ring and the Fourth Ring roads.

More than eight square kilometres of land in downtown areas are expected to be vacated within five years to make way for central business districts, science and technology research institutions and green lands.

By the end of 2007, the city's vegetation coverage will be greatly increased with tree coverage in mountainous areas reaching 70 per cent and on plains exceeding 25 percent, the officials said.

Green land in urban areas of the city will total 125 square kilometres.

The capital city also continues its efforts to treat polluted rivers and protect underground water resources.

Several polluted rivers in the city have been buried or diverted into nearby water treatment plants to receive treatment, according to Liu.

The city's air quality has been improved substantially in the last two years.

The air quality level in Beijing reached Level 3 or better for more than 300 days last year, according to statistics from the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau.

Blue skies and starry nights are no longer strangers to Beijing residents

(China Daily 06/19/2001)

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